miércoles, 13 de marzo de 2013

Eat Pray Love y por que la critican tanto a E Gilbert


I really don't get the hate for Eat, Pray, Love. I think it's a great book and that Elizabeth Gilbert is a great writer. (I've read other stuff by her that she wrote before Eat, Pray, Love too. Also I was pleasantly startled to find her and her ex-husband in a segment on TAL about money!)
The thing that really bothers me and makes me feel compelled to defend this extremely popular book that probably doesn't really need defending, but has become cool to make fun of, is that I feel like people are faulting Gilbert for writing a book, when in fact she's a writer. Nobody goes up to (to pick a job totally at random!) a tax accountant and is like "I condemn you for using your learned expertise to help people with their taxes, and for demanding money and and acknowledgment in return!" But everyone who writes an autobiography, especially a popular one, is condemned for being self-centered enough to describe their thoughts and experiences in a way that's interesting to other people.
The most mystifying thing of all to me is one of the points Anderson highlights, that Elizabeth Gilbert goes ahead and says that the way she can afford to take her trip, is by writing the book about it. It's literally beyond me what could be wrong with this. "How dare you have an experience that you intend to write about?" I suspect that this seems inauthentic to some people, like if she knows that she is going to make money by writing about the experience, it won't be a "genuine" experience. But this is a pretty slippery slope--e.g. "What makes an experience genuine or not genuine?"
In some ways I feel like this complaint is kind of like "How dare you enjoy your job in addition to its financial recompense?" Is that it, or is the connection between personal experience and performance of job more nuanced than that, and in that lies the objectionableness?
Seriously, explain it to me, because I think the book is funny and delightful, that Elizabeth Gilbert is interesting and insightful and a really skilled writer, and that there's nothing wrong with writing a memoir, because people are interested in memoirs.
Posted on May 13, 2011 at 10:35 pmThen I saw Gilbert give a TED talk about creativity. She was humble and charming and very self deprecating. And I thought, "precisely what did this woman do so wrong to deserve so much HATE? She's just a writer doing her writer thing, telling her life persepective." She also seemed so aware that her book wasn't this amazing thing- she didn't act like it was brillant or better than it was, for her it was also a surprise that it got so big. She talked about the pressure she felt in writing another book, in being capable of disappointing so many readers.
Here's the thing. She is privileged, and it isn't a "literary" book-its a colloquial account of a fairly well to do white woman traveling through the world. So yeah, its not like in reading it you strike some blow for deserving minorities (unlike reading say, Chimamanda Adichie). But even so women's voices are underrepresented in the literary world, so everytime a book about the life of a regular woman sells insane amounts of copies....well a rising tide lifts all boats, you know? It shows publishers that there's a hunger by women to hear from women. And I found EPL to present itself much more honestly than say, Freedom, which was wildly overhyped and also about a certain narrow white middle class worldview.
Somehow I think when this same book is written by men, as a narrow account of a man traveling the world with money, to find out things about himself, like...Sex with Cannibals or Anthony Bourdain, or what have you, no one is as cruel about it. They don't say it's shameful and self absorbed of the man to have written it for money, or that it's not real literature, especially if it never pretended to be. If they don't like it, they aren't obligated to hate it so harshly and make that a whole stance, they can just not like it and move on.
So I think there's some kind of internal sexism where only women get burned so badly when they reflect honestly on themselves. I think its like, "be pretty, no one likes an ugly girl, but if you become prettiest, we will all say you are a stuck up bitch."

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